This Domestic Violence Awareness Month, let’s give Connecticut survivors a chance at fair sentences

When Patrice Smith was 15 years old, she was convicted of second-degree murder for killing 71-year-old Robert Robinson. Smith had refused to have sex with Robinson, prompting him to attack her and threaten to shoot her. In the months leading up to this incident, Robinson had repeatedly raped, sexually abused, and exploited Smith. He paid her for sexual acts, asked her to have sex with his friends, and requested that she bring other “young girls” to him. Despite ample evidence of This abuse, Smith was sentenced to 25 years-to-life in prison.

Stories like Patrice Smith’s are common among incarcerated women. Over the last 40 years, the number of incarcerated women in the United States has increased by more than 475%. The vast majority of incarcerated women are survivors of physical or sexual abuse, often at the hands of intimate partners or family members. Countless others have experienced other forms of domestic violence, including emotional abuse, financial abuse, and coercive control.

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Jorge Oliveira

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